NJPW New Japan Cup Night Two (10/3/18) Review

Our new Ace? Credit: NJPW

Night two of the New Japan Cup and for the second time in recent months, WordPress has deleted my first draft of this review. Therefore, if you notice that some of the undercard match reviews are slightly lacking in critical depth, call them, not me.  I’m sure you can survive without a five hundred word moan on Iizuka’s performance. Let’s dish out some stars.

Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Ren Narita

Poor lad. Credit: NJPW

This was a big moment for Ren Narita. It’s not every day that a Young Lion gets to boogie with the tag team champs. Unfortunately, the tag team champs are Despy and Kanemaru, so he was probably more focused on the pain coming his way.

He did get a bit of a chance to impress, however, and he worked hard. There was even a moment where he outsmarted Kanemaru, although he paid for it later. Amusingly, Taguchi made no attempt to save him from Suzuki-gun’s lessons, he must have been tired.

Still, beating aside, this was one of Narita’s better performances, and he’s heading in the right direction.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

David Finlay and Tetsuhiro Yagi defeated Yuji Nagata and Shota Umino

This might have been why he was running away. Credit: NJPW

In the early goings, Yagi sprinted towards Finlay to tag out as Nagata tagged in. I wonder what his teacher thought about such cowardly behaviour. Hey, cowardly lion, I bet someone has made that joke already.

The match was also remarkable for being a rare David Finlay win. He’s been on the winning side of a few multi-mans, but getting a pinfall? From what I can see on Cagematch that is a rarity. I hope someone bought him a cake.

Anyway, it was decent. Umino is at the top of his group of rookies and gets better every time you see him. There’s every chance he goes on to be a star.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) defeated Tomoyuki Oka and a piece of shit

Oka finds his inner suplex machine. Credit: NJPW

I was pleased to see Ishii had survived being dropped on his head. I hope he’ll forgive me for not sticking around to review him, there’s a distinct whiff of shit in the air.

Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin

Suzuki-gun (Davey Boy Smith Jr and Takashi Iizuka) defeated Juice Robinson and Toa Henare

It doesn’t make sense! Credit: NJPW

I think Toa Henare is going to be a fantastic wrestler. He has all the potential in the world. However, Jumbo Misawa could be in the ring with Iizuka, and I wouldn’t give a shit. Far too many minutes were given to him working over Henare. No one needs to see that.

When Juice and Smith tagged in things did improve. However, it could have been Misawa charging in to meet old Jumbo, and it wouldn’t have fixed this mess.

Verdict: One And A Half Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada and Bushi) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr and Taka Michinoku)

This was as brave as Naito got, which is still pretty brave. Credit: NJPW

Ooh, interesting. Once or twice, Suzuki and Naito found themselves alone in the ring. However, it wasn’t so much that they limited their contact as Naito dodged it entirely. Judging by the crowd reaction that was a smart move by New Japan. They could create a little bit of magic with these two somewhere down the road.

Elsewhere, Zack went right after Naito’s arm which might just be (spoiler, I’ve seen the match, it is) setting up his tactic for their Cup bout. It’s classic Sabre and is a simple but effective story to tell in these undercard tags. It adds something to what is ultimately a meaningless encounter. Well done them.

Verdict: Three Stars

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Chuck Taylor and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Bullet Club (Kota Ibushi, Tanga Loa, Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi)

Meeting the friends, always a big moment. Credit: NJPW

Kota Ibushi is now part of the Bullet Club multi-man rotation. However, he did avoid going full Bullet Club and refused to take part in the pre-match Too Sweet. Instead, he shook the hands of Tanga Loa and Yujiro. He didn’t have to shake Chase’s hand because they’re already best friends, (see my review of night one).

We also got to see Kota Ibushi in his purest form, as he moonsaulted off a balcony for the first time (unless I’ve forgotten something) since he returned to New Japan. It was beautiful. Plus, having Ibushi around always makes things better. Throw in lovely people like Chuckie T, Okada and Goto, and who wouldn’t have fun? I won’t pretend it was incredible, but it passed the time nicely.

Verdict: Three Stars

Bad Luck Fale defeated Lance Archer

Assault by Young Lion. Credit: NJPW

We’ve got a hoss fight on our hands. Except, it was one of those hoss fights where rather than two big boys throwing bombs at each other, it was two big boys lumbering around the ring making scary faces.

Don’t get me wrong, it had its moments. At the start it looked like they were going to go all out, hitting each other with everything they had. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep up that pace, and the middle section dragged. If you’ve seen someone being buried under a pile of chairs once, you’ve seen it a hundred times.

They mustered some enthusiasm for the final minutes, with Archer even managing to lift Fale for a few seconds. Sadly for him, he didn’t have the power to get the job done and fell to a Grenade not long after. While this wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great either.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Taichi

Still the same old Taichi. Credit: NJPW

Fucking hell, am I becoming a Taichi fan? Is that something that is going to happen? Is the singing ballbag going to prove himself worthy of my affection? It kind of looks like it.

In saying that, he did start off in classic Taichi fashion. Diving into his big bag of horrible tricks to catch the Ace off-guard. While it didn’t work, he did give Tana’ a couple of frights.

It did, however, work to set up the theme of the match. When it came to straightforward grappling, Taichi wasn’t in Tanahashi’s league. Instead, he had to rely on his ability to flourish in the dark gaps of the wrestling world. His cheating combined with his new bruiser style caught the legend off-guard a few times. At one point he even spiked Tanahashi on his head with a Ganso Bomb. This is a new side to Taichi and damn it if I don’t kind of like it.

In the end, Tanahashi had too much for him. There is a reason this man dragged New Japan out of the dark ages. He’s a fucking brilliant wrestler. Taichi could tap into the dark arts all he wanted but when push came to shove all it took was a picture perfect High Fly Flow to seal the victory.

I’m not buying into the narrative that Taichi is now a world-class talent. He’s not. He still kind of sucks. However, he’s getting better, and he deserves credit for it. As for Tanahashi, his time off doesn’t seem to have seen him miss a step (although he is still selling that knee). Having got past that tricky opening round, he has to now be considered a favourite for the win. Okada is approaching a particular record…

Verdict: Four Stars

Overall Show

Oh no. Credit: NJPW

Not New Japan’s best show but still a decent effort. While Taichi’s newfound ability to be a decent wrestler is baffling, I really shouldn’t complain about it. We also had some fun Young Lion stuff and a couple of decent multi-mans. The piece of shit turned up, and we had that Iizuka disaster, just use your fast-forward button and get to that sweet Taichi action all the quicker.

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